Chemistry General Institute Requirements

MIT expects all of its undergraduates to develop an appreciation of the basic concepts and methods of chemistry. As a central science, chemistry is necessary to understand many natural phenomena and the technology underlying a number of fields of engineering and science. Undergraduate students are required to complete a one semester chemistry subject as part of their General Institute Requirements (GIRs). In the Department of Chemistry (Course 5) this requirement can be fulfilled by taking either 5.111 or 5.112 , Principles of Chemical Science. Students can also fulfill the requirement with 3.091 in the Materials Science and Engineering Department (Course 3).

WHICH CHEMISTRY GIR?

For students with one year of high school chemistry

  5.111 - Principles of Chemical Science

For students with one year of high school chemistry and who intend to pursue majors, minors or professional programs requiring additional chemistry courses*

  5.111 - Principles of Chemical Science

For students with two years of high school chemistry and who intend to pursue majors, minors or professional programs requiring additional chemistry courses*

  5.112 - Principles of Chemical Science

Majors/minors/professional preparation requiring or recommending additional chemistry courses*

  Biological engineering; biology; brain and cognitive science; chemical engineering; chemistry; earth, atmospheric and planetary science; environmental engineering; premedical, predental and veterinary curriculums

*Examples of “Additional Required” Chemistry Courses

5.60 (“Thermodynamics and Kinetics”) – required for biology, chemical engineering and environmental engineering majors

5.310 (“Laboratory Chemistry”) – required for premeds and chemical engineers

5.12 (“Organic Chemistry I”) – required for premeds, biology majors, and chemical and biomedical engineers

Past experience has shown that a firm command of certain principles of general chemistry is critical for success in 5.12. Students whose prior general chemistry courses did not cover these essential topics are at a severe disadvantage. For example, in past semesters we have noted a direct correlation between a student's general chemistry background (5.11x, 3.091) and their performance in 5.12, with students from 5.11x outperforming those from 3.091. To ensure that all students have an opportunity to adequately prepare for 5.12, the Chemistry Department has developed a program of optional reading assignments and background help sessions that are offered at the beginning of each semester to assist students in reviewing material that is critical for success in 5.12.

Advanced Standing in Chemistry

Some freshmen have unusually strong backgrounds in chemistry which may include the concepts and tools covered in the MIT introductory chemistry courses, 5.111, 5.112, and 3.091. Freshmen who are interested in demonstrating their proficiency in chemistry should consider taking the Advanced Standing Exam given by the Department of Chemistry during freshman orientation in August. (MIT does not give advanced placement credit based on the Educational Testing Service (ETS) exam). For the registration deadline and information about this exam visit this page.